Click to search the Andrew Heiskell Braille and Talking Book Library Skip Navigation

What Does Freedom Mean to You?


Preview this post in our new blog design

 Harriet Tubman; Gertie Davis [Tubman's adopted daughter]; Nelson Davis [Tubman's husband]; Lee Cheney; "Pop" Alexander; Walter Green; Sarah Parker ["Blind Auntie" Parker] and Dora Stewart [granddaughter of Tubman's brother, John Stewart]., Digital ID DS_03SCPORT, New York Public LibraryLeft to right: Harriet Tubman; Gertie Davis [Tubman's adopted daughter]; Nelson Davis [Tubman's husband]; Lee Cheney; "Pop" Alexander; Walter Green; Sarah Parker ["Blind Auntie" Parker] and Dora Stewart [granddaughter of Tubman's brother, John Stewart]. NYPL. Digital ID: DS_03SCPORT.Freedom was a very hard and dangerous trek. Do you think you could make it if you had to try?

If you didn’t have someone like Harriet Tubman, also known as Moses, to help you, would you still be able to go through the dangerous journey? Imagine yourself a slave in the fields, hearing the song “Steal Away,” the signal that it is your turn to get away. It’s now your turn to follow the "Drinking Gourd,” also known as the Big Dipper, North to your chance for freedom. There are also rules that you must be careful to remember — how to find a safe station was one, and learning the importance of wading in the water was another. If you were lucky enough to make it to Canada, you might have wanted to sing the song “No Auction Block for ME.”

I hope that I would have been strong enough to make it up North. But I’m glad someone in my family definitely was. To learn more about Harriet Tubman, the Underground Railroad, and Songs of Freedom,  check your local library for books, music, and much more.


Patron-generated content represents the views and interpretations of the patron, not necessarily those of The New York Public Library. For more information see NYPL's Website Terms and Conditions.

Thanks for the post!

Hi Nitsa!! I enjoyed the post..I remember learning "Follow the Drinking Gourd" in order to sing it at a Park Ranger Astronomy event many years ago. Beautiful song with a wonderful and hopeful meaning. - Caroline

What Does Freedom Mean to You

The U.S. Constitution is the best roadmap to freedom. Apart from the obvious freedoms like the right to vote, the right to exercise your own religious choice, the right to free speech, the right to publish the truth, the right to work, the right to own property, the right to have children, the right of patients to choose or not to choose treatment...These are among the basic rights, but there are some more subtle rights such as the right not to be stalked, the right to live without harassment, the right not to become the victim of hate crimes, the right to seek help if you are a crime victim or have witnessed a crime. The right to laugh, the right to cry. Freedom is wonderous, a gift from God. Only those who have no freedom, such as those who live under the rule of tyranny, or in brutal dictatorships, could really explain what it is like to live without freedom. Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote a book called, "Uncle Tom's Cabin," which exposed the tyranny of slavery in America, and lead to President Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation. Her heroic efforts, and the bravery of President Lincoln changed the course of history and lead to freedom.

When I wrote the blog about

When I wrote the blog about the U.S. Constitution apparently I forgot to include my name and it came up as Anonymous. Anyway, my name is Geraldine Nathan. I truly believe that the Constitution of the United States, as well as the Bill of Rights are two of the major documents which have kept this country civilized, and one of the most ethical countries in the world. As long as the Constitution survives, there shall be freedom and justice. Best wishes, Geraldine Nathan

Post new comment

Chat with a librarian now